The proper-top lads from Proper Magazine, kindly asked me to contribute to their latest (and greatest?) issue of their beacon of truth and light and I was chuffed to do so.
The latest issue features an exclusive interview with the Andy Weatherall that’s worth the cover price alone and worth reading at least 5 times, a story about a Stopfordian Joan of Arc lookalike pissing on a French woman* and loads of stuff about surf, selvedge and scallywags.
Proper’s staple(pfft) though is clothes and obviously there are plenty of these present throughout with looks at Our Legacy, Battenwear, Mt. Rainier, Adidas and Aloha shirts amongst much more. It all adds-up to one bright shiny, Stockport-made, soufflé of Sun, surf, selvedge and Swedes (and the bit I wrote for it that you can read below this).
I had my first ‘lads holiday’ during the summer of 1990, at the height of the second or third (fourth?) summer of love. Café Del Mar, Space or Jose Padilla didn’t mean anything to me though as instead of going to the worlds Acid House capital of Ibiza, my first Balearic adventure took me to the isle of Majorca, and more specifically the chic, bohemian resort of Magaluf.
We’d decided to go to Ibiza, Ibiza was where we were going but three of us made the mistake of leaving it to daft Mike to sort it and he sorted it in Magaluf. It wasn’t his fault, it was our fault for letting him but to be honest it was the first time I’d holidayed abroad without there being anyone in charge of me and the prospect was thrilling so I didn’t really care.
I was in love with a girl (still am) so that aspect of a holiday wasn’t on my radar and to be fair to my erstwhile companions they weren’t on many female radars so the holiday was set-up mainly for three things; music, drugs and drugs. The four of us were 17 and we did what 17 year olds from the North West of England do on a Spanish holiday. We smoked weed from waking-up, started drinking lager about an hour after that, bit of whizz early evening, then E’s after that. Repeat to fade for two weeks.
Any variety in my diet consisted of having scrambled instead of fried on my daily full-English, a staple that provided the only real food intake during the fortnight and in 1990 people were only just getting into drinking water so we didn’t have much of that either.
On our first full-day me and my mate Jimmy got caught robbing from the duty-free shop. A grafter from Gorton who was working out there for the season, assured us it was like taking candy from a baby and as we walked up the road with 400 free Bensons each under our arms we could only agree, until a car screeched in front of us and two angry Spanish men jumped out. One of them grabbed the cigs back…fair enough, then he tried to grab me…not fair enough, so Jimmy gave him a slap and we ran as if we were in Stanley Park. Before the shopkeeper took them back I’d managed to open a carton and take 20 out so we’d had a small victory and we celebrated by spending the afternoon in an English pub with the curtains closed watching Predator on video, just soaking-up the local culture.
Memories and photographs from the holiday suggest that sartorially I was in full-on ‘scouse-dealer’ mode with an outfit of Naf Naf baseball cap, Levi’s denim shirt, sky-blue Adidas jogging bottoms and turquoise Gazelles. I had a natty green Benetton sweatshirt about two-sizes too big that also wowed ‘em on the Punta Ballena. I sometimes swapped the jogging bottoms for some purple Nike shorts but it was a time of limited costume changes.
I would have worn my red cord Big Audio Dynamite cap but on arrival at our hotel my friends threw it into the pool in a hilarious prank and it got sucked-down the pool filter, never to be seen again. If any of us had had a heart we’d have done the same to Mike’s red tee-shirt that had E 90! emblazoned on the front, with E for England! on the back. Though to be honest we told him it looked great just so he’d wear it more.
I had a genuine ecstasy moment of the kind that people of my vintage get misty eyed about. I spent the morning in a club that most of the resorts workers favoured, where the headlining DJ’s played after-hours sets. I came-up on a white dove and reached into a plane of absolute serenity when the DJ dropped The Orbs “A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld”. It was the original single version so it still had the beautiful sample (which was actually the whole vocal dropped into the mix) from ‘Loving You’ by Minnie Ripperton. It was one of those rare, glorious moments when music just takes over. It was beautiful man.
‘Chart-topping star’ and ‘house DJ’ Guru Josh was out there playing because obviously, as you know/knew 1990 is/was time for the Guru. We went to see him, tempted by the Guru’s promise that this was his time and because it was being held in the ‘World’s biggest club’, a glass and chrome palace called BCM. We didn’t stay long. 1990 wasn’t time for the Guru. It is never time for the Guru and the club was horrible, like some bingo hall designed by Willy Wonka on skag. It was a bit like being in Tameside.
The Guru’s presence notwithstanding there were some ace DJ’s on the island and some of the clubs were sublime but typically the tune that bore its way into my core wasn’t some classy R&S stomper but Ritmo De La Noche by Mystic. It was the summer’s banger despite it lacking any kind of bang whatsoever and being rubbish. It was played everywhere and all the time and everywhere. I hate it. I love it. I hate it. (Youtube it, you won’t thank me). Dreams of Santa Anna by Orange Lemon was another big tune too to be fair. Still is. (Youtube it, you’ll thank me).
We got to know some bar owners/workers and they were convinced some Cockney bloke was working their turf. We agreed to tip them off if he approached us outside bars or clubs he shouldn’t. They asked us to go to one bar in particular. We didn’t see the Cockney bloke and forgot to go to the specific bar but when they all, including the Cockney bloke, confronted us later I said he’d done everything they’d said he had. It was a bit bad of me but as they approached the Cockney bloke shouted at me; “ I’ve never seen you before you lying cunt”, which was true but there was no need to call me a cunt so I dropped him right in it, which was a bit of a cunts trick to be fair so maybe he had a point.
I felt a bit guilty afterwards because the bloke was humiliated, lost credibility, his contacts and his job but looking at the positives we got free drinks, drugs and security and to be honest he was a shifty-looking bleeder and he was dressed appallingly in that shiny cockney way. He probably was doing it. Maybe.
We came home two days after that which was good timing as a fortnights-worth of narcotics had meant we’d got a bit paranoid about running into the Cockney bloke again without our bar-worker friends around us as he was a good ten years older than us, as were his bigger mates and I was breaking-out with scurvy and spots.
It felt great to be young and from Manchester in the summer of 1990 and some things came together during that time in Magaluf. I slept all-day and danced all-night, took more drugs than I ever had, swam in the sea every day, parked a moped in the apartment, I didn’t pay for much, I didn’t get hangovers, I didn’t get surnburn despite not applying a single millilitre of lotion and to be straight with you I looked pretty fucking cool in my jeans/jogging-bottoms/Adidas Gazelle combo (optional purple Nike shorts). It was one of the periods in time that was my time and I lived it like there was no tomorrow. Great days. I still wish we’d gone to Ibiza though.